Pearl Harbor Special Interview With Vet Bob Batterson: If you have been listening to WallBuilders Live for very long at all, you know how much we respect our veterans and how appreciative we are of the sacrifice they make to make our freedoms possible. One of the ways that we love to honor those veterans is to tell their stories here on WallBuilders Live. Today, we are interviewing Bob Batterson, a WWII to veteran and Pearl Harbor survivor.
Air Date: 12/07/2018
Guest: Bob Batterson
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Transcription note: As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.
Faith And The Culture
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. This is WallBuilders Live! Where we’re talking about today’s hottest topics on policy, faith, and the culture, always doing that from a Biblical, historical, and Constitutional perspective.
We’re here with David Barton, America’s premier historian and the founder of WallBuilders. Also, Tim Barton, national speaker, pastor, and president of WallBuilders. And my name is Rick Green, I’m a former Texas state legislator, national speaker, and author.
Check us out at WallBuildersLive.com, where you can also get archives of the program and listen to some of the shows from the last few weeks. Also go to WallBuilders.com, and you can get a wealth of information. We encourage you to go there to support the program and help us continue to bring you these great interviews, Good News Friday programs, Foundations of Freedom Thursdays, and all the other programs that we do. David, Tim, a special kind of program that we do fairly regularly is our interviews with veterans, and actually talking about their experiences. Many of those that we’ve been able to interview are World War II veterans, and that’s one of the ones we’re bringing today. Tim, you had the privilege of interviewing a really special guy.
An Increasingly Special Opportunity
Yeah, Rick. As the years go by, on I realize how much this has become increasingly special to be able to interview someone who was actually part of World War II, as it seems like these guys—every day members of these different military units are die and there are fewer and fewer left. These stories become even more valuable now that we’re able to hear them in person, or have these interviews over the phone, it’s just absolutely incredible stuff, especially for this one when someone who was there at the beginning of World War II for the Americans, and hearing the details of what he witnessed and how he felt about things, and how that is forever changed his life, really just so fun to be able to talk to him and get his story.
Remembering Pearl Harbor, this is a thing that’s kind of getting away way from this generation. Already we’re seeing that, even with something like 9/11, there are so many Americans alive today who did not personally experience or remember 9/11. For them, that’s that’s kind of a distant historical thing, but for a lot of people it’s not.
So when you look at something like Pearl Harbor, this is what got America into a situation where, in many ways, God used her to save the world from what was going on at the time.
A Mistake that Saved the World
Granted, there were lots of other allies involved, but had not America become involved the outcome of World War II would have been very very different.
So America was a key turning point in that. When you look at what was going in the world at that time, it was just almost—I don’t know how you can understand. 40 million lives lost in Europe and 20 million lives lost in the Pacific. 60 million lives in that period of time, and it was not cheap for Americans. Our casualties were getting close to a million total deaths and injuries.
So it was very expensive for Americans, but literally we did save the world, and it all happened with almost a mistake that occurred. Japan was going to enter the war against America. She was going to get us distracted so that we would have to fight her and not be able to go after Hitler and Mussolini, and so they were going to declare war, they were going to Washington D.C. Their diplomats were going to declare war against America, and then right after that they were going to bomb Pearl Harbor because they’ve declared war on us. Their diplomats did not get the message delivered. There were some snafus in D.C. communication—
Little too much traffic. We didn’t plan on traffic. Our apologies, we should have known there was traffic and lights in D.C. Our bad.
And as a result, they didn’t get war declared. Then we got hit at Pearl Harbor. We should not have been hit. There were lots of indications to the Americans of what this was, but nobody believed that we were really at war and that they were coming after us. We were very isolationist in our mentality.
A Day of Infamy
Nobody’s going to mess with us. And they did. As a result, 3,000 Americans died from the attack on Pearl Harbor.
It was a treacherous attack because they did not declare war first. It mobilized the Americans. As President Roosevelt said, “This is a day that will live in infamy.”
We then, over the next four days, had six declarations of war. Japan got around to declaring war on us, we declared war on them.
Hitler said, “Well, we’re declaring war on America.” Great, we’ll go after Hitler. Mussolini said, “Well, if you’re attacking Hitler and Tojo, I’m going after you.”
Well, we’re going after you too then.
So we really got immersed in this. This is a rapid, rapid transition in America, and it happened on one day. That one day brought us to the point of changing the world. We might not have gotten involved otherwise. It’s a very important day, a day that should be remembered. It’s just not there in most history books anymore today. So having a veteran who actually was there at Pearl Harbor, who was an Army Air Corps pilot who then flew after Pearl Harbor and was involved in a number of the Pacific engagements, it’s quite a remarkable honor for us to have Bob Batterson when we get back from the break.
Tim Barton will be interviewing Bob Batterson, World War II veteran and survivor of Pearl Harbor. Stay with us, you’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
We Want To Hear Your Vet Story
Hey friends! If you have been listening to WallBuilders Live for very long at all, you know how much we respect our veterans and how appreciative we are of the sacrifice they make to make our freedoms possible. One of the ways that we love to honor those veterans is to tell their stories here on WallBuilders Live. Once in awhile, we get an opportunity to interview veterans that have served on those front lines that have made incredible sacrifices have amazing stories that we want to share with the American people.
One of the very special things we get to do is interview World War II veterans. You’ve heard those interviews here on WallBuilders Live, from folks that were in the Band of Brothers, to folks like Edgar Harrell that survived the Indianapolis to so many other great stories you heard on WallBuilders Live.
You have friends and family that also served. If you have World War II veterans in your family that you would like to have their story shared here on WallBuilders Live, please e-mail us at [email protected] Give us a brief summary of the story and we’ll set up an interview. Thanks so much for sharing here on WallBuilders Live!
Welcome Bob Batterson
Welcome back to WallBuilders Live. Joining me is someone who is a World War II veteran. He was actually over in Hawaii when Pearl Harbor happened. It is Bob Batterson. Mr. Batterson, thanks so much for being with us today.
OK, so Bob, I’ve seen a little bit of your story, but we would love for you to share with the listeners some of what you experienced. So can you back us up and take us through what happened there at Pearl Harbor as World War II unfolds for America?
I’ll give you a little background, not a great deal. At Pearl Harbor, I was not aboard a ship, I was in an enlisted barracks. That Sunday morning, we were on holiday routine including all the guys aboard those ships. We were sound asleep of course, Sunday morning sleeping in, and we heard noises and thought it was another drill. Why would they have a drill on Sunday morning? There were some choice remarks about that from the other men and me.
And then suddenly a Japanese torpedo plane flew by. So we knew, for goodness sakes we were in a war and that’s how it started with us. None of us could really understand how the Japanese were so successful and how it was such a complete surprise, because their dive bombers and torpedo planes, and other high altitude guys were so well coordinated.
No one was shooting at them of course, and in the first 15 minutes they did 85 percent of the damage and were successful initially.
The Battle of Pearl Harbor
We were sort of strafed on the way down to fight fires on the Cassin and the Downes, two destroyers that were on fire and the dry dock. While we were doing that, the Japanese were strafing and bombing the battleship Pennsylvania, which was directly astern to the destroyers. That was over by 9:30, and it was just sirens, smoke, and burning ships. It was over, and I thought we lost the war.
Little did I know that the Japanese Strike Commander had not sent in the third strike, which would have taken Pearl Harbor out of the war for months, and months, and months, and as such, he made the most serious military blunder event of any Japanese commander in World War II.
I’ve got to mention one thing: We couldn’t understand why there was no security. What had happened? One of the reasons was that Admiral Kimmel had stated the Japanese would never attack us at Pearl Harbor, first because we didn’t have enough water for them. We only had to have 43 feet of water, the Japanese needed 100 feet so that they could drop their torpedoes. They would get down a hundred feet before they started running the target.
What they did is they modified their torpedoes, put wooden fins on them, and every torpedo I saw after release went straight and true to the target.
We were Unprepared
They are smart, smart people and they’re our friends now. Our security was relaxed. We didn’t send patrol aircraft, nor that weekend we didn’t have total units on board of the battleships. We made it easy for the Japanese to surprise us. I’m convinced that’s the reason he got a court martial.
Wow. Bob, can I ask a question? So you mentioned there were no torpedo nets. What was the purpose of a torpedo net? To detonate the torpedo before it got to the ship?
It was to stop the torpedo from hitting the ship. Now, it didn’t necessarily have to explode them, though it would on many occasions, that need not be the case. The success is that they would explode, if they explode, they would explode away from the ship’s hull and the ship would be safe.
What was your job, or where did you get assigned from Pearl? Were you there part of the clean up or did they assign you somewhere else?
Well, I stayed at Pearl for another year, and then I was sent to flight training back to the States almost a year to the month of Pearl Harbor. I got my wings in September of 44, and ended up aboard the carrier Benington, which is a sister ship to the Lexington.
And we attacked the Japanese at Northern Honshu, Southern Hokkaido, and then Truman, thank God, dropped those two bombs and it was over.
Wow. So did you have any any flight missions that you went on, or was the war over before you did that?
The Hellcat F6F
Oh yeah, I got involved. One of the best ones was to help the battleship Massachusetts take out the Imperial Ironworks Commission, Japan. It was very interesting on the way. They did a great job, and then we made fire sweeps trying to get it all, the aircraft that the Japanese were trying to hide from us, to have ready for the invasion in October. Thank God Truman dropped those two bombs. It would have been a bloody mess.
Yes sir. What plane were you flying?
The Hellcat, the F6F.
- Yeah I am familiar with the Hellcat, probably some of our listeners might not be. Would you tell us what are some of the features of the Hellcat, or what was the purpose, the design, of the Hellcat.
That aircraft was designed to match the Japanese Zero. The Zero was by far the better fighter when the war started. The Hellcat had the speed, it had the durability to take a beating. It was a tough aircraft, had six machine guns, all 50 caliber, and rockets. We could carry a couple of 500 pound bombs and six rockets, and we had 400 rounds of 50 caliber ammunition. Good aircraft that could take a beating and bring us back to the carrier.
It sounds like a very well armed plane.
Oh, she was. She was very fine.
Were the Atomic Bombs Necessary?
Well, Bob, I’ve heard you mention twice that you were so grateful that President Truman dropped the atomic bombs. And as I look back historically, certainly we see that was a major shift in the war. One of the things that sometimes is not told very well, is sometimes Americans look at those atomic bombs as maybe being mean, or they were too big. America sometimes almost gets criticized because we dropped the atomic bombs. What is your perspective on why that such a good thing, to drop those bombs?
It saved—well, first of all it saved my life because I would have been in the invasion. I was given—our tiger team was given—special training in ship to shore bombardment. Oh, it was estimated to be about a million casualties. No one was going to help us, we were going to be on our own taking on the Japanese.
Do you mean the Americans doing that?
So one million American lives would have been lost.
Yes. Estimates up to a million casualties. Because they would—if they were going to fight us with kids, old people, every Japanese who could bear a pitchfork, gun, or a knife, it would have been a bloody, bloody situation. They had over 5,000 planes set aside for the invasion forces with kamikaze attacks, and they would have ripped our troop ships apart so fast. We were fortunate God was with us. God was with us, there’s no doubt in my mind He interceded.
We Warned them Many Times
I also have seen historically that the Americans even warned the Japanese people about some of these bombing raids, and about the fact that y’all were targeting military installations, different military depots and supplies, and encouraging the Japanese people to surrender. So it seems like we were even doing more to try to help them or encourage them to give up the war and not cost more lives.
We tried and tried and it didn’t work. Then they started fire bombing the cities. The losses of the Japanese in those attacks were far greater than those two atomic bombs. We killed thousands and thousands of Japanese civilians in the cities with fire bombing every night. You never have seen all the facts on it, this is terrible. Any time someone would like to discuss it was wrong to drop those two bombs, the first thing I say to them is, “Well, first of all I’m still alive. Second of all, it saved thousands and thousands of American lives. I thank God we had Truman to make that decision.”
Well, Bob, I would even think it probably saved a lot of Japanese lives as well.
It did. Thousands and thousands and thousands.
Right. Because it brought their surrender a lot sooner, brought the war to a close, and yes, saved lives on both sides.
Oh yes. No doubt, no doubt. Those who attempt to justify their position that Truman was wrong, they don’t know what they’re talking about, just like there are so many of them today that don’t know what they’re talking about when they say, “We’ve got to change. We’ve got to remove our current President. We’ve got to change our way of life.” We’re at war with those people.
The Second Pearl Harbor
I completely agree. There is such an ideological difference right now, with people who don’t understand what it means to be an American, or how freedom works, or even the price that was paid for us to have those freedoms, and people are trying to take them away right now.
Amen. I hit the chord with a lot of people about their second Pearl Harbor and why they’ve got to get involved.
And Bob what would you say is a second Pearl Harbor, just so all the listeners can hear that?
Remember the Twin Towers in New York City?
Yes sir, September 11th.
Yes, that’s the beginning of your Pearl Harbor too. That’s when the war started with the Muslims, that was the beginning of your Pearl Harbor. I even talk to kids in high school and say, “This is your Pearl Harbor. Even if you weren’t alive, it’s your war. It’s affecting you now and you’re going to pay taxes in the future for it.”
Believe me, when you start paying taxes, it’s so obvious what has happened, that we have let the enemy grow in strength in our country.
We’ve got thousands, and a lot of them came in the last eight years with Obama.
I’m curious if part of the radical behavior you saw from the Japanese during World War II, if you see that paralleled and some of this radical ideology from some of the Muslims in modern culture. Because I can see that actually looks fairly similar in part of their behavior, but I’m just curious if you see any similarities between those kind of radical thoughts.
A Fanatical Foe
The Japs were a vicious, cruel enemy. We knew it, the guys who fought them on the islands knew it, and they responded accordingly.
This enemy we have today is a different kind of enemy. They can be standing right beside us and we don’t know it, and take out hundreds of people with the bombs he has around his body. They’re a dedicated group of people who have become so much part of our day to day existence that it’s frightening.
Before we talk about how people can get involved, and maybe some of your ideas of what people ought to do, let me back up and ask a question. During the war, or maybe even now, I heard you say, “Thank God for what Harry Truman did in dropping the bombs.” Do you see that faith played any role, or was faith important for you at all during the war or during your life now?
The two most important things to me is God and country. And I feel it’s been that way with millions and millions. It’s important aboard the Lexington, that’s why I think you should come down and check her out sometime. If we don’t keep this faith in God and pray for His guidance, His assistance or will, you’ll be in for a terrible time in the future.
Well, Bob, what do you think that people can or should do to get involved and make a difference now?
Get Involved with Your People in Washington
Oh, all I can say is get involved. You’ve got to get involved with the person that you have sent to Washington to make sure the Constitution is preserved, freedom is preserved, and our security is preserved. If you get on the wire, call them, send an e-mail. This makes them understand that that’s what you want to prove, that they’re going to do it for you. If they don’t, they’re not going to be immune. They’re going to be kicked out the next election. I said that’s the boy, you’ve got the anvil. If you don’t get involved nobody else is going to do it.
Well, Bob, I couldn’t agree more. We’re running out of time today but thank you so much for coming in and sharing part of your story today.
There’s more. If you want to get more of my stuff, I’ll be here all the time.
Well, Bob we sure appreciate it. We try to always make sure all veterans know we are so grateful for your service. Bob, thank you for what you did to help America be America.
Join Us In Israel!
Hey guys what are you doing January 28th through February 7th? If you said you don’t know, let me give you an idea. We are going to Israel. Rick Green, my dad, David Barton, Tim Barton, our families are going and we would love for you to go with us. We are going to the Holy Land if you’ve ever been to Israel this is something as a Christian that will make you forever read your bible differently.
To see where Jesus walked, where He lived, where He did miracles, where so much of the Bible took place. If you’ve ever read through the Bible and you’ve given it a mental picture, the mental picture will not do justice of what happens when you’re actually on the ground. If you’ve ever thought about the story of David and Goliath and you’ve envisioned what it looks like, we’re going to go to the actual field where it took place.
There are so many things that you will see that literally makes the Bible come to life. In fact, that’s the name of the tour group we’re going with is The Bible Comes to Life. Go to CMJacksboro.com. You can click on the link, it has an Israel itinerary, all kinds of details. Hope to see you on this trip this coming year.
This is a Good Reminder
Welcome back to WallBuilders Live, thanks for staying with us. A very, very special thanks to Bob Batterson for joining us here on WallBuilders Live, and to you, Tim, for doing a great interview with him.
It really is an honor, Rick. Obviously, you know, you get to interview these guys as well, but being able to talk to someone and hear those stories firsthand is significant, and I thought it was a great challenge to Americans today to recognize that right there, there are still people that have extreme ideologies, and there still are levels of this terroristic activity around us. So we can’t become complacent, and forget how special this nation is, and be ready to continue to uphold those principles of freedom that have made America so special for so long.
It is a good reminder. And guys like this, who have had to go through so much and seen so much, they’re a blessing for us to be able to learn from them today. Maybe we don’t have to experience the same things they did—we have to, to some degree, but not at the same level they did.
So it’s a real blessing to hear from them and be able to honor them, and hopefully to help the next generation understand the importance of our freedoms.
Pearl Harbor Veteran Interviews and More at WallBuilders
Well, special thanks again to Bob Batterson for joining us on the program today. Thank you for listening and by the way check out at WallBuilders.com
We’ve got a CD of some of our best interviews over the years with these World War II veterans, and other veterans, and pretty much all the branches I think are represented there as well on the CD. And you can also go to WallBuildersLive.com and go back in to the archive section for more of those programs. Thank you so much for listening. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live.